A raw diet for dogs centers around the concept of feeding dogs a similar diet to that of their ancestors and wolf cousins. As the name implies, you feed uncooked meats, bones, and organ meat, plus eggs, fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy. Dogs have a higher stomach acidity and shorter intestinal tracts, which enable them to eat raw meat that may have food born bacteria. Even so, proper food preparation and handling procedures must be practiced, including cleaning and disinfecting work surfaces after each meal.
Some pet parents who feed their dogs a raw diet tout benefits such as improved health and digestion, better stools and more energy; even improvements in some medical conditions. But, a raw diet isn’t necessarily a good idea for dogs with certain medical conditions, young puppies or senior dogs. Do your research and talk a veterinarian nutritionist before making the switch.
Raw dog food diet plans
There are three main types of raw diets for dogs:
- The Prey Model Raw diet follows the belief that dogs should eat as their wolf ancestors did by consuming bones, muscle, meat, skin, organs, fat, connective tissue and, sometimes, hide, hair and feathers.
- Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (B.A.R.F) or Bones and Raw Food focuses on raw muscle meat to provide essential nutrients to your dog. A B.A.R.F. diet looks like this: 70% muscle meat, 10% raw edible bone, 7% vegetables, 5% liver, 5% other secreting organ, 2% seeds or nuts and 1% fruit.
- Keto Dog Diet is high fat, low carb-based diet, similar to the human Keto diet. Keto diets for dogs are currently the subject of studies to see if this feeding pattern helps dogs diagnosed with cancer.
The diets can be either homemade, store-bought, freeze-dried or dehydrated. Each center around feeding your dog’s meals in raw form. Alternatively, gently cook your dog’s meal or subscribe to a meal delivery service where the food has been treated to prevent contaminations.
How to make a raw diet for dogs
Before you give your dog a raw food diet, consult a veterinarian or canine nutritionist to help you create meals containing appropriate amounts of all the nutrients that your dog needs to stay healthy. They will test your dog for food allergies and guide you through starting your dog on a raw diet plan. Lissa Cannady, RVT, Hospital Manager for VCA, advises the feeding amount should be determined by the caloric content of the ingredients included in the diet. Aim for “balance over time,” she says, by rotating proteins with fruits, vegetables and grains in each meal to provide all the amino acids, vitamins and minerals your dog needs to stay healthy.